Abstraction in fashion: the influence of great artists on modern design

December 16 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of the founders of abstract art, Wassily Kandinsky. Abstract art, having freed itself from established dogmas, has significantly influenced the evolution of art and design, including fashion.

Kandinsky's revolutionary vision

Wassily Kandinsky, by rejecting objectivity, offered a new perspective on the world. His works, which deny the precise reflection of reality, evoke numerous associations in the viewer. Paintings consisting of bold color combinations and geometric forms strive for harmony, a concept that has become important for all representatives of abstraction. Kandinsky’s influence is evident everywhere: from architecture to cinema and fashion.

In the 2009 Haute Couture collection for the House of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld created a dress reminiscent of Kandinsky’s “Squares with Concentric Circles.” This was not the only instance when Lagerfeld drew inspiration from abstractionism. In 2014, he named Kandinsky and Pollock as his main inspirations. Kandinsky’s creativity also inspired Marni’s creative director, Consuelo Castiglioni.

Mondrian's impact on modern design

However, fashion’s love affair with abstractionism did not begin with Kandinsky. Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, a proponent of pure abstraction, had a tremendous influence on modern design. His grids were adapted by fashion houses: Hermès created a line of accessories with multicolored leather in the 1930s, and Yves Saint Laurent dedicated one of his fall collections to Mondrian, accurately reproducing his geometric paintings. Collections by Proenza Schouler, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Ronaldus Shamask, and Christian Louboutin with their famous “Mondrian platforms” continue to be inspired by his works.

Pollock's legacy in fashion

Jackson Pollock, the ideologue of American abstract impressionism and creator of one of the most expensive paintings in history, also influenced fashion. Designers like Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, and Vivienne Westwood found inspiration in his works. Australian designer Richard Nicoll recreated “Lavender Mist” in his 2013 show, while Raf Simons was inspired by “Number 20.” Alexander McQueen went even further, dedicating his show to abstract impressionism, turning a model into a living canvas.

Malevich's suprematism in fashion

The contribution of Kazimir Malevich, the founder of suprematism, is also invaluable. His geometric prints and architectural constructions have been reflected in the collections of Burberry, Raf Simons, Roland Mouret, and Céline dedicated to Tony Viramontes, where references to early Russian avant-garde can be seen.

The interplay of art and fashion

The connection between fashion and art is evident: designers draw inspiration from various movements, from cubism to art deco and baroque. Seasonal collections of fashion houses often reveal art messages, presenting us with the ideas of great artists. This interplay not only enriches fashion but also keeps the legacy of abstract art alive in contemporary design.

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